Associate Professor David Alexander Leonard Newcombe

BA, BA (Hons), PhD


I have had over twenty year's experience working in the addiction sector in New Zealand and Australia.  I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology and neuroscience at Flinders University and doctoral studies in psychopharmacology at Adelaide University in South Australia. Previously I worked at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research in the Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Problems at University of Adelaide where I was involved with many large multinational multi site studes (including the validation of the Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST)).  In addition to my teaching responsibilities I am an Associate Director of the Centre for Addiction Research at University of Auckland.

My current research interests include: Evaluating screening and brief interventions for problematic drug use in different contexts, the use of pharmacotherapy for treating addiction disorders, the cognitive effects of drugs of abuse through the lifespan; and the impact of co-existing problems (including prescription medication use) on well-being, and alcohol and drug use in older adults.

Research | Current

Research interests

  • Screening and brief interventions for problematic alcohol and drug use
  • Clinical pharmacology of pharmacotherapies used for the treatment of dependence
  • Cognitive effects of drugs of abuse
  • The impact of co-existing problems (including prescription medication use) on well-being.
  • Alcohol and drug use in older adults

Teaching | Current

I coordinate the following courses:

POPLRAC 765: Co-existing Disorders - Theory and Principles

POPLHLTH 738: Biology of Addiction

POPLHLTH 773: Pharmacotherapeutic Responses to Addiction

POPLPRAC 708: Assessment and Intervention with Addiction

POPLHLTH 212: Biobehavioural Aspects of Drug Use 


Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising postgraduate students undertaking the following research:

  • Development, reliability and validity of a questionnaire to screen for problematic internet use
  • Substance use and health utilisation in older adults with addiction
  • E-cigarettes: Acceptability and feasibility for smoking cessation and harm reduction in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment 
  • The experiences and outcomes of those receiving treatment for opioid dependence who have initiated their opioid use through legitimate pathways



2019. Prime Minister's Chief Scientific Advisor Legalisation of Cannabis Expert Panel

2019.  Butland Award for Leadership in Teaching 

2017.  US National Institute for Drug Abuse, Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award (DISCA)

2016. Supreme Winner - National Workforce Innovation Award 2014 (Matua Raki).

1998. Australian Post Graduate Research Award for doctoral studies



Head of Section, Social and Community Health, Social and Community Health 

Academic Director, Alcohol and Drug Studies Programmes. 

Associate Director, Centre for Addiction Research

Areas of expertise

Screening and brief intervention for risky drug use

The cognitive effects of drugs of abuse

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Representative, Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs Council 

Member, Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs

Chair, Training Providers Network

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Joo, Y. J., Newcombe, D., Nosa, V., Walker, N., & Bullen, C. (2020). Betel nut use in Vanuatu: Investigating opportunities to reduce harms to health. Substance Use and Misuse, 55 (9), 1457-1464. 10.1080/10826084.2020.1716803
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vili Nosa, Natalie Walker, Chris Bullen
  • Galea-SInger, S., Newcombe, D. A., Farnsworth-Grodd, V., Sheridan, J., Adams, P., & Walker, N. (2020). Challenges of virtual talking therapies for substance misuse in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic: an opinion piece. New Zealand Medical Journal, 133 (1515), 104-111. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Janie Sheridan, Natalie Walker
  • Humphrey, G., Chu, J., Dowling, N., Rodda, S., Merkouris, S., Parag, V., ... Ruwhui-Collins, R. (2020). Manaaki – a cognitive behavioral therapy mobile health app to support people experiencing gambling problems: a randomized control trial protocol. BMC Public Health, 2010.1186/s12889-020-8304-x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gayl Humphrey, Joanna Chu, Simone Rodda, Elsie Ho, Vili Nosa, Chris Bullen
  • Saxton, P. J. W., MCAllister, S. M., Noller, G. E., Newcombe, D. A. L., & Leafe, K. A. (2020). Injecting drug use among gay and bisexual men in New Zealand: Findings from national human immunodeficiency virus epidemiological and behavioural surveillance. Drug and Alcohol Review, online first10.1111/dar.13046
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Saxton
  • Towers, A., Szabó Á, Newcombe, D. A. L., Sheridan, J., Moore, A. A., Hyde, M., ... Kowal, P. (2019). Hazardous Drinking Prevalence and Correlates in Older New Zealanders: A Comparison of the AUDIT-C and the CARET. Journal of aging and health, 31 (10), 1770-1789. 10.1177/0898264318794108
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Janie Sheridan
  • Jeong, S. H., Sheridan, J., Bullen, C., Newcombe, D., Walker, N., & Tingle, M. (2019). Ascending single dose pharmacokinetics of cytisine in healthy adult smokers. Xenobiotica; the fate of foreign compounds in biological systems, 49 (11), 1332-1337. 10.1080/00498254.2018.1557760
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Soo Hee Jeong, Janie Sheridan, Malcolm Tingle, Chris Bullen, Natalie Walker
  • Newcombe, D. A., Knaebe, B., Malloy, R., Peacock, A., & Bruno, R. (2019). Mixing alcohol and energy drinks: Associations with risk-taking, alcohol consumption and motivations in a New Zealand sample. Journal of Substance Use10.1080/14659891.2019.1666311
  • Newcombe, D. A. L., Taufa, S., Tanielu, H., & Nosa, V. (2019). Substance misuse stories among Pacific peoples in New Zealand. Kōtuitui : New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 14 (1), 68-79. 10.1080/1177083X.2018.1528991
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vili Nosa


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 507 - Bldg 507
Level 1, Room 1064
New Zealand

Web links